As a gadget fiend, I love to help folks pick out the best gear. To that end, here's a quick guide to some of the cool things to shop for (and not to shop for) this holiday season.
Buy - Windows 8 Touchscreen Laptops
Don't Buy - Windows Desktops
Windows 8 is here whether we like it or not, and the new OS works best on a brand new touchscreen mobile device rather than a stodgy old desktop. Unless you're looking at an "all-in-one" PC - a PC with a big touchscreen and built-in processor and storage - you're not going to be happy running Windows 8 on a non-touchscreen device. Newer laptops will be a bit more expensive - about $999 for the Yoga pictured above - but it will be worth it if you're planning an upgrade.
Buy - 3D TVs & an Apple TV
Don't Buy - Smart TVs
TV manufacturers are trying to sneak all sorts of junk onto your TV. By adding "features" like streaming video, they often clog up screen real estate and make things harder to use than they have to be. You will, I assure you, never use Netflix on your TV. You just won't.
I do think, however, you should get the most advanced TV you can buy. While most 3D content is uninteresting at best, I do think 3D video and video games will become the norm over the next few years, whether we like it or not. A good TV with 3D capabilities will at least future-proof you for a bit and the Apple TV will give you some excellent streaming sources.
Buy - Mini Tablets
Don't Buy - Full-Sized Tablets
Amazon and Barnes & Noble just released 9-inch versions of their Kindle and Nook tablets and there's a new, full-sized iPad that may be interesting to some. However, I'd honestly recommend trying something like the Nexus 7 or the iPad Mini. I've really enjoyed using these tablets over the larger, more unwieldy full-size models, and they're not as expensive as picking up a piece of "heavy iron."
Buy - A Sturdy Case for Your Old Tablet
Don't Buy - "Kid" Tablets
There are plenty of tablets out there for kids, including devices like the LeapPad and Kurio. None of them are particularly good. I'd recommend steering clear of those things and instead picking up something like the Otterbox Defender so you can cover your old tablet in a solid case. It's cheaper than buying something new for the kiddos (and let's face it, they don't need a new tablet this year) and it keeps it safe for a few years so they can slobber it up with food and Play-Doh when they play Angry Birds.
Buy - A Wii U
Don't Buy - A PS3 or 360
If the kids are asking for a game console this year and you've avoided the last generation, don't try to play catch-up. Instead, I'd recommend looking at the $350 Wii U. I've been playing ours for a few weeks now and I'm really amazed at how fun it is for the whole family. Games like New Super Mario Brothers and NintendoLand are amazing for the little ones and the Wii U now supports more "mature" titles for older folks.
Because all of your old Wii titles are compatible with it, the U makes for a great upgrade and it costs about the same as a new XBox 360 or PS3. Those two consoles, for what it's worth, will probably get updates next year so investing in them now is probably not the way to go.
Buy - Anything but the Furby
Don't Buy - Furby
The Furby is back. Please don't be fooled. They don't love you. They're loud. They're annoying. Please, let's not encourage the Furby people to make more of them? Thank you.
What gadgets are you planning to buy for people this holiday season?
Images via Lenovo; Google